I spotted the white-tailed buck as he cleared a barbed-wire fence about three-quarters of a mile away. He’d come up out of the creek bottom and magically appeared at the far end of the field where I was hunting. The buck knew exactly where he was headed, as three does fed in the field 50 yards to my right. The buck had no sooner cleared the fence when he locked his eyes on the does and made a beeline across the field.
I watch the interaction as the buck closed the distance. The does started to get nervous and ran in circles. The buck honed in on one of the mature does and followed close behind her. The buck stopped, raised his nose in the air, and tested the breeze for pheromones that would indicate it was time to rut.
The buck pursued the does out of the field, as they wanted no part of being harassed and chased around. They cut through a strip of cedars and headed for quieter country. The buck soon lost interest in the ladies and let his stomach do the talking. He nibbled at the rye grass growing close to the ground, as the green sprouts were luscious compared to the dried vegetation across the rest of the field. I ranged the deer at 60 yards and tried to anticipate where he would come out in front of me. If all worked as planned, I would have a 35-yard shot as the buck fed broadside to me.
As if on cue, the buck showed up where I anticipated. With my crossbow already on my shoulder, I wasted little time settling my crosshair on the vitals with the 35-yard reticle on the heart and lungs. I squeezed the trigger and watched the lighted Omni-Nock on my arrow disappear into the hide.
The buck had no idea the arrow was coming at him, as he never heard a thing. Modern crossbows have come a long way regarding the amount of noise produced when fired. Several of the newer crossbows from companies like TenPoint, Horton, and Wicked Ridge are extremely quiet, with new limb designs, carbon rails and other features are all designed to work together to reduce vibration and noise.
I thought about the noise factor ahead of time and plan to be as stealthy as possible when I pulled the trigger. The first thing I did was sight in my TenPoint with a Full Metal Jacket arrow, which is a heavier projectile than a straight carbon arrow. The heavier arrows help to absorb vibration and quiet the bow significantly when fired.
I was also using shooting sticks, and in the “V” that holds the forearm of my crossbow, I place a block of padding so that the vibration won’t transfer from my bow into my shooting sticks. It is amazing how sound travels and resonates, and using the wrong rest can make a distinct sound, passed from the bow.
Shooting a TenPoint, I already have the advantages that are built into the bow for noise reduction. Quality crossbows, like the Phantom RCX come with string dampening rods already installed. You can add string silencers, limb dampeners and other anti-vibration attachments to make your bow even quieter on every shot.
There are some simple things to do with your bow to help reduce noise, and the easiest is to ensure your bow string is properly waxed. The wax prolongs the life of the string but also dampens noise as it transfers energy.
By ensuring you have lube on the rail, you can also avoid any contact noise your arrow would make, and capitalize on less friction.
The little things all add up to a quiet crossbow, so don’t overlook some of the basics before you head out hunting this fall.